Location, location, location.
We’ve all heard that expression. Most of us have grappled with it when we go about trying to find a suitable home and a neighborhood that’s right for our lifestyle. For some that’s one that has plenty of amenities within the neighborhood. For others, it’s wide open spaces with large lots. Townhomes and condos work for those who want to lock and leave.
Family-friendly, active adults, singles’ communities, urban, rural – there are so many choices and with that, comes an opportunity to find the perfect place to call home. That perfect place has to include not only where and how you want to live, but one that fits your budget.
How to find your place
Since I’ve been moved around quite a bit, I’ve gained some knowledge about how to find the place that’s right for my family and me. Since most of the places I’ve been are on or near the coast, I learned that flood zones – knowing where those are and how they affect insurance rates – are very important.
Many master-planned communities offer so many amenities, you don’t have to leave the neighborhood. Shorter commutes are important to some while others don’t mind the drive as long as they are in the location they want to be. Others gravitate toward an area that has the school system that’s the right fit for their children.
A realtor once told me, “You can change your home but you can’t change where your home is.” What I’ve learned more than anything, is to find a learned realtor that knows the area you want. Maneuvering your way through the ups and downs of buying and selling is stressful.
It’s not just the price of the home that matters. The cost of living in the home once you buy is equally important.
Choices, choices and more choices
Summerville occupies three counties – Dorchester, Berkeley and Charleston and the choices in which to live are plentiful. Within its 18 square miles, the population tripled between 1980 and 1990 and it has doubled since then – to nearly 52,000 residents.
“Alston Place townhomes are a fantastic build for an affordable price,” said Jason Harper, Sales Manager of Hunter Quinn Homes. “It’s within walking distance to historic downtown Summerville and you have the perks of city living without the hustle and bustle nuances.”
The two to three-bedroom townhomes are 1,295 plus square feet and offer residents great walkability with the ease of low maintenance living. Beginning at $169,900 they are budget friendly and are within walking distance to Dorchester II Schools.
Limehouse Village is also minutes to downtown Summerville. The three to five-bedroom homes start in the high $200,000 and are designed to mimic Charleston’s Rainbow Row colors.
Harper calls Lincolnville Square a “commuter’s dream” as it’s five minutes to downtown Summerville and ten minutes to I-26 and Trident Medical. The setting is serene yet it’s close to Charleston and North Charleston with some lots nearly a half-acre. Beginning in the low $200,000, the homes are three to seven bedrooms.
North Charleston beckons those who want to have shorter commute times to Park Circle, Riverfront Park and downtown. One of the newest communities, Creekside at Horizon Village has townhomes and single-family cottages that start in the $200,000.
“Buyers choose this 99-home community for its modern floorplans, ideal location, low monthly costs,” said Harper. “Creekside attracts those who really enjoy being a part of the cities’ offerings, whether that be recreational or night life focused.”
Moncks Corner in Berkeley County is a burgeoning area with new listings up from 2,263 in 2018 to 2,330 as of July 2019. The average sales price for homes is $259,903 and they don’t last long – about 40 days on the market.
“The Paddock at Fairmont South is where rural meets Lowcountry,” Harper explained. “The majority of the homesites back to the woods or pond and six out of 10 of them have the master downstairs.”
The community is an enclave within the Fairmont South and is near Cypress Gardens. Designed with “coastal farmhouse” in mind the 98-home new community has oversized lots and prices start at $241,900.
“Carnes Crossroads is located within Goose Creek and Summerville – there are multiple zip codes at Carnes,” Julie Dombrowski, Communications Director of Daniel Island Development Company. “It is a master-planned neighborhood similar in design to those on Daniel Island with southern-style architecture, shade trees, sidewalks, parks, trails, lakes, downtown businesses and other amenities.”
Dombrowski said the community also has its own school and church and prices range from the mid-$200 to $500,000. “It’s also a good choice for retirees looking for an active lifestyle, growing families who want their children to grow up in a vibrant and safe community and for those who live in the north area and want a location close to many of the region’s largest employers.”
The master-planned community’s name comes from the intersection of Highways 17A and 176, located in the center of the property. It’s been a landmark for over 100 years and was named after Dallas V. Carnes. The community’s green barn was located here and was moved and renovated to house activities and special events.
Daniel Island in Berkeley County isn’t a “neighborhood” in the traditional sense according to Dombrowski. “Daniel Island is more of a sub-market than a neighborhood. It has a small-town setting that combines businesses of all kinds, schools, churches, parks, trails and numerous amenities. Plus, there is a collection of quiet residential neighborhoods here – they are pedestrian-friendly with lushly landscaped yards.”
What’s more this tony “sub-market” offers a country club, custom homes nestled among two golf courses and the epitome of Charleston grace – tidal creeks, marshes and Wando River views. The price range for single family homes range from the $500,000 to over $5 million. Homesites are from $200,000 to over $1 million.
“Daniel Island is a great choice for anyone,” said Dombroski. “Kids walk or ride their bikes to school. Active retirees, young professionals and those who want a convenient and ‘urban’ lifestyle such as Daniel Island’s condos and apartments love this area. It has a small-town island setting and outstanding amenities.”
West Ashley charm – old and new
In Charleston County, the mix of old and new is here. New listings are slightly up from last year – as of July there were 1,168 new listings, with an average sales price of $342,980. West Ashley is a hotspot of activity, especially in the Avondale area which has an eclectic village-like vibe.
“Some of the most popular West Ashley neighborhoods are the ones that are close to downtown Charleston,” said Donna Caldwell of Carolina One Real Estate. “Avondale, Byrnes Down, Ashley Forest and West Oak Forest all offer almost everything within a mile from home.”
These neighborhoods are older, established ones – some built in the 40s, 50s and 60s and the price range varies as much as its architectural styles. From bungalows to craftsman-style homes to ranchers and cape cods and more, West Ashley’s neighborhoods are charming, diverse and sought-after, especially for downtown commuters.
“The Greenway offers walkers and bikers easy access to grocery stores, coffee shops, wine bars, yoga, shopping and lots of restaurants,” said Caldwell. “Young professionals, families and retired buyers love the convenience and charm of these older, established neighborhoods.”
For those seeking an amenity-rich, family-friendly and established neighborhoods, Northbridge Terrace and Parkshore Park are great choices. A community center, pool, tennis and playgrounds are here plus one can walk to Charles Towne Landing. These communities feel “away from it all,” but they’re close enough to enjoy downtown and the Avondale area.
“Carolina Bay is a planned community that offers single family homes, townhomes and walking trails,” Caldwell said. “There are three swimming pools and a playground for residents to enjoy.”
Pet friendly is another amenity in Carolina Bay, one of West Ashley’s newest neighborhoods. There’s a dog park, covered entertainment area with an outdoor fireplace and sidewalks.
Johns Island – rural luxury
“Johns Island is a magnet for those seeking established communities and new planned communities,” said Maraide Sullivan of Keller Williams Realty. “There’s plenty of space as it is the most rural island closest to downtown and the fifth largest island on the East Coast.”
Sullivan lists a four-bedroom, three bath home on Johns Island at 4287 Fripp Lane for $779,000. “This home was built by a Kiawah builder as his personal home and it has so many upgrades plus it’s on a premium lot,” Sullivan said.
The home is located in Kiawah River Estate on a cul-de-sac with views of a lagoon and Oak Point Golf Course. It has both an upstairs and downstairs master suites.
“Some established neighborhoods like Barberry Woods and the Villages at St. Johns Woods continue to be attractive to buyers due to their Lowcountry design homes and neighborly layout,” Sullivan said. “Each home is unique and buyers like the settled neighborhood feel.”
Homes in Barberry Woods range from the upper $200,000s to the low $300,00. Homes in the Villages go from the mid $300,000 to $600,000.
Sullivan said that many new neighborhoods are springing up as well with developers such as Pulte, Mungo, Lennar, Crescent and others building in this increasingly popular and growing rural area.
East of the Cooper
“Mount Pleasant is popular period,” said Gentry Todd of the Boulevard Company. “That said, some of the most popular options range mostly by life status and price range.”
Todd said that the master-planned communities of Dunes West, Park West, Carolina Park and Rivertowne are especially popular with families. “Each have their own subsections that have everything from townhomes and condos to large estate like homes on the water. Their dollar goes a bit further into larger homes in these neighborhoods.”
The Old Village and Ion are iconic upscale communities but there’s a there’s a distinct contrast. Though prices range from $800,000 to multi-million, the Old Village has a mixture of older homes with new. Some homes in the “Village” have been renovated while others aren’t. Ion takes a cue from downtown Charleston with its European influences.
“Many of my favorite communities are moderately priced,” Todd said. “Hidden Cove, Brook Green Meadows, The Grove and Hidden Lakes to name a few are slightly older, well-built homes that benefit by proximity to amenities.”
Mount Pleasant has grown rapidly and its home values continue to rise. First time home buyers can find properties in the small 50-home community beginning in the mid $300,000. These homes rarely go on the market, but when they do, they sell very quickly. Located “off the beaten path” and Highway 17 North, the rainbow-colored homes are Lowcountry styled.
“There have been moves made to curb some of the expansive growth in Mount Pleasant,” Todd said. “But, it’s easy to understand why so many gravitate toward the area. Beyond the school districts, most of Mount Pleasant has quick proximity to downtown Charleston, Sullivan’s Island, Isle of Palms, the airport and several of its own ‘town centers’ with great restaurants and shops. All the while feeling as if it’s a town where you regularly bump into folks you know.”
An interesting fact about the Mount Pleasant area according to Todd: “There’s a 65 percent probability that your home will have been built on or after 1990. That gives you a sense of just how much the area has grown in the past three decades.”